Let’s face it; we haven’t had a great golf movie hit the big screen since 1996 when both Happy Gilmore and Tin Cup first premiered, and that was almost two decades ago. Since then it’s amazing how often we still find ourselves quoting those famous movie lines out on the course, even reenacting our favorite scenes from some of the greatest fictional characters in golf, including Happy Gilmore, Roy McAvoy (Tin Cup), and of course, Shooter McGavin, played by actor Christopher McDonald.
With THE SQUEEZE McDonald returns to golf cinema and this time around he portrays a wealthy gambler looking to make a quick score by way of a high stakes game of match play golf. His role as “Riverboat” is perhaps best described as what Shooter McGavin would have become after he retired from the PGA TOUR. His greed and cockiness are still present, although this time around he’s an older gentleman donned in dapper southern-style suits and top hats, while accompanied by his beautiful, but money-hungry wife (Katherine LaNasa). In fact, Happy fans are in for a little treat because the Shooter we all love comes out in one particular scene, which makes you want to scream out…“Shooter!” You’ll know exactly what moment we’re referencing when you see it.
THE SQUEEZE movie is based on the true story of a young amateur golfer named Augie Baccas (Jeremy Sumpter). Augie wins the city golf championship (breaking his own course record in the process) which catches the attention of Riverboat who hears the news of the local golf hero on the radio during a cross country drive from Mississippi to Las Vegas. Riverboat and his wife immediately set out in search of Augie to convey a proposition that will change his life.
The small southern town amateur soon gets caught up in a game of high stakes gambling after seeking a payday that promises to assist his broken family. Persuaded by Riverboat and the chance to fill his wallet, Augie sees the potential to bring his family out of poverty and begins gambling with Riverboat at local events. The two quickly become a great money making team, but the story takes an unexpected twist that leads to a life and death situation as Augie gets mixed up with notorious Las Vegas gambler Jimmy Diamonds (Michael Nouri).
It’s also worth mentioning that the role of Augie’s girlfriend is played by the beautiful Jillian Murray, whose looks alone are enough to hold our attention throughout the movie.
For a golf movie to be truly great it has to feature some really excellent golf, or otherwise it’s just another movie with a hero, love story, and a little violence right? The good news is that Jeremey Sumpter is an excellent actor with some surprisingly amazing skills and a truly great golf swing. No body doubles here, as all shots in the movie were actually hit by Sumpter which made the golf aspect of the film feel quite realistic.
In a recent Golf Digest article, director Terry Jastrow talked about his mission in finding the right actor for the role. In the article was quoted saying:
“So Jastrow set out to find an actor with golf ability, a low single-digit handicapper, five or less. He narrowed the search to five candidates and took each of them to Bel-Air Country Club, where he is a member, and auditioned them on the golf course.”
“You can tell whether a guy can play by the way he grabs the club,” Jastrow said. “And Jeremy could really play.”
Impressively, Sumpter is actually a 1.1+ handicap in real life, a fact you can derive immediately watching him swing on the big screen. Our favorite scene shows Sumpter on the range being approached by McDonald who asks him if he can hit draws and fades. Without hesitation, he puts two balls together within an inch apart and hits them both in rapid succession. The camera pans into the air where you see two balls crossing over one another in perfect fade/draw overlap.
Most of the movie plays out on local municipal courses that don’t offer much in terms of scenery, but that all changes as the film approaches the end when the venue moves to the breathtaking Wynn Las Vegas Golf Course.
At one point, the actors step up to tee off on a beautiful par 3 with the green tucked behind a dangerous water hazard. The shots in this scene are sure to excite any golfer and if you’re like us you’ll be tempted to pack your bags and head to directly Vegas. Simply put, the film crew couldn’t have picked a better course for the location for the high stakes finale. Bravo!
Our Overall Opinion of the Film
We think the best way to describe this movie would be The Legend of Bagger Vance meets Rounders. Sumpter is like a modern day Matt Damon but here instead of life and death high stakes poker, golf is the game that brings out his dark side. The southern small game feel that gets twisted into the action packed Vegas gambling scene may start off a little slow, but hang in there and you’ll soon be on the edge of your seat wondering how it’s all going to play out. Confronted with mob related characters who threaten Augie with lead boots leaves the audience wondering if Augie will make it out alive. It all leads up to “The Squeeze:” lose…he dies, win…he dies. It’s a predicament which takes us through surprising twists and turns up to the very last frame.
We really enjoyed watching and reviewing this film and it was a privilege to be asked to do so. Every great movie needs a killer plot twist and this film certainly delivers in that area. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy all the golf talk, scenes, and other golf related scenarios that play out throughout the 1 hour and 33 minute run time.
Our suggestion: definatley check out THE SQUEEZE when it hits theaters on April 17, 2015.
About the Writer/Director
Terry Jastrow is a seven-time Emmy-winner with 17 nominations as a television sports director, 6 Olympic Games, Super Bowl XIX, 22 US Open Championships, 20 British Open Championships, etc.). With this firm he makes his feature film directorial debut.
Featured Testimonials of The Squeeze
- Jack Nicklaus, 18 Time Major Championship Winner: “I watched THE SQUEEZE with Barbara and really enjoyed it. It’s a fun movie that tells an interesting story, and the golf elements are so real you actually believe it could happen.”
- Phil Mickelson, 5 Time Major Championship Winner: “THE SQUEEZE is the best golf movie ever because it’s so authentic. It hooks you in the beginning and stays interesting and entertaining right to the end. I’m looking forward to seeing it again.”
- Steve Wynn, Chairman, Wynn Resorts: “THE SQUEEZE is a rare movie in that I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen next, and I was sad when it ended. The dialogue is snappy, the cast and performances are wonderful, and it has the best poker scene I’ve ever seen in a movie. If you like gambling, golf, and Las Vegas, you’ll love this movie.”
- Tom Watson, 8 Time Major Championship Winner: “THE SQUEEZE depicts actors (lead actor Jeremy Sumpter in particular) who are truly believable as pro quality golfers. Director Jastrow’s true understanding of the game (with 22 years directing sports, in particular golf on ABC Television) injects reality into the scenes with a stream of golf humor that golfers will find both familiar and believable, which are sadly lacking in all previous golf movies. With his athletic swing, Sumpter made this entertaining tale believable from the start. The catalyst for the film is the character “Riverboat”, whose role is wonderfully played by Christopher McDonald. His guile and salesmanship together make for an intriguing surprise ending. THE SQUEEZE is indeed an enjoyable adventure into golf and big time gambling.”
- Al Michaels, NBC Sports Top Announcer: “THE SQUEEZE is very entertaining! The script is wonderful, especially the end which comes as a surprise! Christopher McDonald and Michael Nouri turn in boffo performances. Sign them up for the sequel – now.”
- Bob Costas, NBC Sports Host Announcer: “Perfect cast, cleverly written, beautifully shot… I loved it from the first tee to the 18th green.”
- Jim Nantz, CBS Sports Announcer: “We had the chance to have a wonderful sneak preview of this movie that will be coming out April 17th called THE SQUEEZE. It’s written and directed by the legendary golf producer Terry Jastrow, and produced by his wife Anne Archer. It’s a good one too. Very impressive.”
We want to hear from you as well. Go see THE SQUEEZE this April and let us know what you thought of the movie by leaving us your comments below.